Data can help you answer questions with confidence and can even help you predict the future more accurately. But data doesn’t do anyone any good if it’s just stored somewhere and nobody knows what it encompasses or how to use it.
Data governance is the foundation of making sure your data pulls its weight.
What Is Data Governance?
Data governance is the concept of managing the availability, usefulness, integrity, and security of data. A strong data governance program should specify people who are in charge of it, as well as plans and procedures for making sure data is available, usable, secure, and uncorrupted. Data sets should have assigned custodians, and there should be policies about who is accountable for the data and its integrity.
Data governance processes include storing, archiving, backing up, and protecting data. Processes should also exist concerning who can use the data and how they obtain access to it. And if the organization is subject to federal or industry regulations, audit procedures should be developed to ensure that data is and remains in compliance with them.
How Can You Get Started with Data Governance?
First, you have to have realistic expectations. Getting the rest of the organization on board with a data governance project can be trying, but it’s important to get buy-in from other departments and from management and executives. Furthermore, if you’re establishing a data governance program to ensure compliance with regulations, a top-down approach with support from the upper echelons of management is critical.
A data governance program will necessarily involve new rules about who is in charge of data sets, and how people gain access. Taking a needlessly hardline approach will result in unnecessary animosity, but relying too much on everyone’s good will can backfire too. You have to be willing to enforce rules consistently, and offer incentives for compliance.
Also, it may be hard to use the same data governance tools (such as tools for ensuring data quality) for all your organization’s data, but using common tools when you can simplifies matters and gives data users a sense of consistency when they access different data sets.
A Few Dos and Don’ts Concerning Data Governance
Do give data governance an organization-wide focus. If people see it as just another IT project, they won’t see the business value of data governance, and will likely think it’s just IT trying to rigidly control everything. Educate people about the business value of data governance, and how it can make their work easier (by making data access procedures more consistent, for example).
Don’t make data governance all about the rules. If people think that data governance is nothing but a new set of rules that makes it harder for them to do their work, they’ll immediately start thinking of ways to circumvent them. End-users need to see the benefits of data governance to buy into it.
Do remember the value of your data. Whether the data itself can be seen as a financial asset, or whether it is used in the support of business goals, data governance should ultimately be about maximizing data’s value. Is it secure? Is it accessible to authorized people? Is it intact? Is it in a format that’s usable?
Don’t make data governance so draconian nobody uses the data. A pile of tapes in a vault somewhere is useless. But so is a neatly formatted, intact, secure database that nobody can use because there are too many hoops to jump through before accessing it. Remember that ultimately data governance should make data more useful and valuable, and it can’t be that if it’s kept in a locked glass case behind a velvet rope where nobody can touch it.
Trends Affecting Data Governance in 2014 and Beyond
Data governance will only be more important as more data taps are opened up and as more data pours into organizations. The cloud, mobility, and big data are all disruptive technologies that affect how organizations implement data governance. Start now, and you’ll be better equipped as even more data starts to flow into your organization. Data governance is emerging in importance, and what it means differs from one organization to the next. But data governance involves ensuring data quality, appropriate access, and risk mitigation, and done right, it can be a major business asset.
When you use Samanage for IT service management, you have a great adjunct to your data governance program. With powerful IT asset management, you can account for all hardware and software at all times, and with easy-to-use IT service desk features, you ensure that end-users remain productive, and that your IT team delivers IT services as efficiently as possible.
About Nicole Hollingsworth
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